Summer is typically a time for teenagers to take a break from their studies and relax. But for a few local students across South Carolina, it provided an opportunity to learn more about Veterans’ health care.

Unlike past summer program sessions, this year’s program was a hybrid virtual and in-person collaboration.

“This year’s program allowed us to expand our program into locations that we previously were not able to,” said Vicki Johnson, voluntary service officer at the Columbia VA. “Being able to include youth from the Florence and Rock Hill VA clinics helped us shine the light on potential careers in health care for kids in those areas.”

Students in hands-on learning sessions

Over the course of the summer, the students, ages 13-17, learned about robotic surgery and utilized the robot simulator by picking up rings and placing them on objects.

Student Carrington Golson performs an ultrasound on a mannequin.

They received hands-on use of medical equipment, such as an ultrasound machine during a field trip to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Simulation & Interactive Learning Center and Ultrasound Institute.

The students received first aid and automated external defibrillator (AED) training and became CPR certified for adults, children and infants.

They also learned from a variety of professionals during career day about multiple health care and non-health care related careers, including a drone simulation.

“The instructor taught us the basics about drone operation, told us how the laws and regulations concerning drones are always changing. He brought in a drone simulator for us to test out,” said student Ali Wallam. “I enjoyed the program and look forward to coming back next year.”

The 32 South Carolina youth wrapped up their summer with a recognition ceremony held at the Fort Jackson NCO Club. The ceremony was the finale to the Columbia VA Health Care System’s Summer Student Program.

By Matthew R. Bell is an Army Veteran and a public affairs specialist for the Columbia VA Health Care System.

Share this story

Published on Sep. 18, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 195

More Stories

  • Housebound Veterans are winners when they combine virtual and in-home health care visits. Susan Gallagher receives hybrid care, both virtual and in-person.

  • In 2022, VA set a goal to house 38,000 homeless Veterans. With only a few months to go, how are we doing?

  • Under the PACT Act, Vietnam era, Gulf War era, and Post-9/11 Veterans have extended eligibility for VA health care.